The American Chiropractic Association reports that 70 percent of construction workers will experience low back pain for more than a year. This statistic is troubling enough on its own but a study by the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health reports that back pain in construction workers can lead to depression. In light of these statistics, it is important that construction workers do all they can to prevent back strain and injuries.
Some of the most common causes of back pain in construction workers include sudden movements; repetitive, awkward, or heavy lifting; digging and shoveling; and whole body vibration when using heavy equipment. Back injuries are caused when the muscles of the back are sprained or strained or when joints, bones, or nerves in the back are injured.
While there are exceptions, most back injuries have to do with improper lifting. Experts suggest doing a pre-work warm up to increase circulation and lower the chance of injury. Back support belts also are recommended.
The best way to decrease back injuries, however, is to use proper lifting techniques. Here are some tips to lift properly:
- Make sure that any load that is lifted is as close to the body as possible. The further the load is from the center of a person’s body, the more strain placed on the back.
- Place heavy objects between your knees and shoulders. If a load is especially heavy, break the load into parts or ask for help.
- Don’t bend at the waist when reaching to lift or load an object. A natural arch in your lower back will help to distribute the load evenly and is less stressful on your back.
- If you are able to carry a load in one hand, place your other hand on the outside of your thigh to maintain correct back alignment.
- Always tighten your stomach muscles to prevent spinal twisting. If you need to place a load to the side, turn by moving your feet.
Finally, staying in good shape will do wonders for your back. A large stomach keeps you from carrying loads close to your body. It also makes lifting loads at your waist much more difficult and puts extra strain on your spine.